HIPAA? Now HIMTA: The New mHealth Bill

Posted 12.10.12 by


Congressman Mike Honda of Calif. introduced a new bill last Monday – The Healthcare Innovation and Marketplace Technologies Act (HIMTA). According to Congress.gov, the bill will foster further innovation and entrepreneurship in the health information technology sector, as the bill is very friendly to mobile application developers.

Honda seeks to foster the growth of Silicon Valley to improve healthcare. He claims our current healthcare system works against startup entrepreneurs and creates barriers to entry. He also aims to provide for the lack of an established marketplace for new technology and lack of trained employees. While HIPAA is the leading regulatory compliance for healthcare organizations, HIMTA does not create new regulations but instead seeks to clarify current ones.

With mobile device use in healthcare being adopted in BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) environments, the bill couldn’t come at a better time. According to the 2012 State of Mobile Health IT, a survey conducted by HIMSS and Qualcomm Life found that 61 percent of clinicians use third-party apps, and over 90 percent of physicians used mobile technology in their everyday operations. While the market is ready, developers may not be when it comes to the critical compliance and security standards that ensure an app is tested and considered safe to use.

The bill itself will:

Establish an Office of Wireless Health at the Food and Drug Administration
This office will provide information via their website on how to design and produce mobile health IT aligned with the current industry regulations, as well as consistent updates on new regulations and how to comply from a tech perspective. This could prove to be very helpful, as many are still confused on how to apply the HIPAA standards to technology, as much of the standards are addressable and focus more on policies and procedures.

Award grants to health IT developers
The bill proposes the creation of a Challenge Grant Program that will award competitive grants to developers of health IT and require recipients to submit a report a year later detailing their progress. Another grant program, the Disruptive Technologies Prize Program, will award candidates that can provide a unique solution for problems with current certified EHR use. The solution should seek to decrease the cost of healthcare and improve the quality of care.

Establish specific mhealth software responsibilities for the Health Information Technology Research Center
Main initiatives include establishing an education website and providing a support number to answer questions that mhealth innovators might have about complying with national standards as it relates to their specific technology. It will also be a way to communicate the strides taken toward mobile health software application technology by the Health IT Research Center.

Award workforce retraining grants
The National Coordinator for Health IT will award grants for HIT training for employees that will use their training within a year of receiving it. In light of the move to mobile health, ‘retraining’ works to update current employee skills and provide smooth job transitions to support the growth of the mhealth industry.

The bill intends to reshape the current mhealth industry and keep technology aligned with compliance and security requirements. For mhealth application SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) developers, they must also have compliance at the data hosting level. Find out more about HIPAA hosting in our white paper, including how you can achieve technical, administrative and physical security.

Related Links:
Mobile Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) & HIPAA Hosting
Latest Federal Mobile Malware Report
Recommendations for Mobile Health IT Advancement
BYOD: Mobile Healthcare Policies
mHealth: Regulation vs. Innovation
Overcoming Cloud-Based Mobility Challenges in Healthcare

H.R.6626 – Health care Innovation and Marketplace Technologies Act of 2012 (PDF/Full Text of Bill)
Rep Honda Brings Silicon Valley IT to Healthcare System

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